Ontario private member's bills aim to end auto insurance 'postal code discrimination'
Published Monday, October 15, 2018 6:30PM EDT
Vehicles makes there way into and out of downtown Toronto along the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto on Thursday, November 24, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
TORONTO -- Two Ontario legislators from different parties introduced separate bills on Monday aimed at stopping auto insurance companies from charging drivers higher premiums based on where they live, saying it was time for the practice to end.
The politicians -- one from the ruling Progressive Conservatives and another from the Opposition NDP -- said they want the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which regulates insurers, to stop the practice they call discriminatory.
Parm Gill, a Tory legislator from Milton, Ont., introduced a private member's bill on the matter, saying drivers from the communities around Toronto pay higher auto insurance rates than those living in other areas of the province.
"Ontario's auto insurance rates are amongst the highest in Canada despite having some of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities," he said. "Our government is committed to ensuring fairness in rate setting and ending discriminatory practices."
Gill said his bill would ensure drivers are evaluated based on their driving record and not where they live.
"This bill, if passed, will promote personal responsibility," he said. "A good driver in my riding of Milton should pay the same rates as a good driver anywhere else."
NDP legislator Gurratan Singh introduced a similar bill on Monday and said his legislation, if passed, would require the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to refuse approval for risk classification systems that don't consider the Greater Toronto Area as a single geographic region.
"Drivers in the Peel region and other parts of the GTA continue to arbitrarily pay significantly higher auto insurance rates than any where else in the province," he said.
Singh said drivers in his riding in Brampton pay on average $1,000 a year more in auto insurance premiums each year than a driver in north Toronto. His bill would result in lower insurance rates for GTA drivers, he said.
"It will make sure that insurance companies are not allowed to gouge people simply based on the neighbourhood they live in or the municipality that they live in," he said.
Singh wouldn't say if he will work with Gill to meld their bills into one.
On Friday, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario announced insurance rate increases for the third quarter of 2018, approving a 2.06 per cent increase. In the second quarter of 2018 the commission approved a 1.11 per cent increase.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli wouldn't say if the government will support the Gill's legislation, committing only to review it once it is tabled.
Fedeli's spokesman said the government is looking at the regulatory environment surrounding the province's auto insurance sector, with the potential of allowing more competition in the marketplace.
"Our government is committed to ensuring fairness in rate setting, ending discriminatory practices and working towards a system that puts drivers first," Robert Gibson said in a statement.
Pete Karageorgos, director of Consumer and Industry Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said insurers would welcome modernization of the sector regulations and acknowledged that some of them are "stale."
He noted that the Financial Services Commission of Ontario sets out how insurance rates are set, including various rating factors used to set premiums.
"They are the ones that set those rules in place in terms of using things like a person's driving record, the type of car they drive, even where they live," he said. "Geography is something that's used and it's used not just here in Ontario but in every insurance market across the country."